LivingThe expectations that parents place on their children are...

The expectations that parents place on their children are ours, and they do not have to fulfill them

Is it good to place expectations on children? Is it normal to have them? Up to what point?

It is perfectly normal that, as parents, we create certain expectations in relation to the upbringing and development of our children. It is inevitable to “expect” something from them.

This is due to our own experiences , growing what we understand as good or bad and even what we would have liked to be different.

These preconceived ideas of what our children should be like often differ from reality, and it is precisely then that expectations can generate conflicts both for them and for us.

So while it’s normal to have expectations, it’s important that we review them, as they are our expectations, not what they are meant to do for us (ie they don’t have to meet them; it’s important to separate this).

Our only expectation should be their happiness , although it is not easy not to expect anything from our children. We reflect on all of this.

“You should never have expectations of others. Just be nice to them.”

-Pema Chödron-

Is it good to place expectations on children?

When we create expectations in our minds about how our children will be or should be, this can limit their development.

And it is that, it may be that our son does not comply with what we expect of him (it is important to question: should he do it?), and then we get to feel very frustrated about it.

The pressure to fit in or not to disappoint

In addition, it can also be detrimental to our little ones by burdening them with pressures to meet standards for which they may not be prepared. They can grow up with the mistaken idea that they cannot disappoint us (children with fear of disappointing).

It can even be much worse still, that we manage to curtail their progress and their abilities, since they do not correspond to what we expect.

For example: if I was an excellent science student, I want my son to be much better than me and I put all my expectations on him being a good scientist, but it turns out that what he likes (and is also very good at it) ) is the painting.

If I am closed in what I expect and/or desire from my son and do not let him develop in painting, I would be wasting his talent , in addition to the fact that we can, without wanting or realizing it, generate frustration and make it difficult for him to be happy.

“Do not ask anyone to be what they are not. Do not ask or expect from a person what he cannot give.”

-Norman Vincent Peale-

Excess of expectations: the danger of anxiety

Another of the negative consequences that expectations can have on children is creating extreme pressure for them to comply with what we expect of them. This can become very complicated for children, creating a lot of discomfort.

All this is a factor that generates stress and anxiety , which if not treated in time, can seriously affect the mental and emotional health of the little ones.

A child who feels very pressured to meet the expectations of mom or dad can develop anxiety-related disorders.

This would not only affect children in their healthy development during childhood and adolescence, but would also have a serious impact (negative in most cases) in their adult lives, always feeling pressure and seeking unattainable perfectionism.

Adolescence and expectations

When our children grow up and enter the stage of adolescence, the picture is much more complex. At this time , young people often begin to test their parents to know what their limits are, at the same time that they begin to investigate and discover who they are, what they like and what they do not.

This is when we see that our children begin to seek a path many times different from the one we wanted them to follow, and that can be a factor that generates a lot of stress for parents.

The importance of trust and respect

However, despite the fact that it may be difficult for parents to see that our children take control of their lives and decide to take different paths than we wanted , it is important to always respect and trust them (because that will also encourage them to trust in you).

Accompany them from another place (advising but respecting their space and their decisions), and also trusting that they too can choose well.

And above all, remember that they are beings independent of us and that they are perfectly capable of living their own lives.

Boundaries and rules matter too

It is then our duty as parents, to be their guides, and of course, often play the role of ‘bad policeman’, when it comes to setting limits and rules. But it is very important to allow them to grow and develop in what they want.

So is it bad to have expectations?

Expectations, as we have already mentioned, can be limiting. Many times they do not allow us to live and experience the growth and development of our children in its entirety.

In addition, if we place unrealistic expectations on them or that do not fit who they are or what they want to do , they can be very frustrating, generate a lot of anxiety and stress and even seriously affect their self-esteem and self-perception.

In turn, all this generates serious emotional conflicts that can affect their mental health.

Realistic and adjusted expectations

In conclusion, it is not bad to have certain expectations of our children (and it is normal!), the important thing is that these are realistic and that we can review and adjust them.

In short, that as their parents, we are capable of being flexible to adapt to reality as events unfold.

And the most important thing is to be aware that it does not matter if our children grow up and fulfill or not what we expected and dreamed they would achieve.

The importance of recognizing them as independent and free beings

They are human beings independent of us who have their own lives, thoughts, emotions and tastes, and we must respect them; and although we love them more than anything in the world, they do not belong to us.

Do not forget also to always show them all the love you have for them, but from the accompaniment, listening and dialogue, never from the imposition.

“The expectation of happiness is more intense than happiness itself, but the pain of an accomplished defeat always exceeds the intensity predicted in his worst calculations.”

Almudena Grandes

Photos | Portada (freepik)

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